I have come to believe that high stress, constant anxiety over tasks and work and life, and social anxiety are all a part of the modern way of life.
Most people just don’t feel a sense of peace, of calm, of serenity, throughout their day.
I have to admit that I’m the same way some of the time, but I have learned a few things that have helped me create a feeling of calmness much more of the time than ever before.
It’s a series of habits that have developed over the last few years. I’m not perfect at them, but I do practice them, and they are always helpful.
These are habits, not a one-time change in my surroundings or work pattern. Changing your environment is great, but you can’t control the things that happen to you much of the time, and you certainly can’t control how other people act. The only thing you can control is your response — and this response matters. You can respond to the same event with anxiety or anger, or you can respond with peace and calmness.
Let’s figure out how.
These are the habits to develop that will help you develop calmness (based on my experience):
1) A calm morning ritual. Many people rush through their mornings, starting the day out in a stressful rush. I wake up a little earlier (5 a.m. these days, though that changes), and start with a little meditation, then a few yoga poses. I then start writing, before I let the noise in. Exercise is another component of my morning routine. You don’t need to do the same things, but find the quiet of the morning and make the most of it.
2) Learn to watch your response. When something stressful happens, what is your response? Some people jump into action — though if the stressful situation is another person, sometimes action can be harmful. Others get angry or overwhelmed. Still others start to feel sorry for themselves and wish things were different. Why can’t other people behave better? Watch this response — it’s an important habit.
3) Don’t take things personally. Many times the response (that you noticed in Habit 2) is to take things personally. If someone does something we don’t like, often we tend to interpret this as a personal affront. Our kids don’t clean their rooms? They are defying us! Our spouse doesn’t show affection today? He/she must not care as much as he/she should! Someone acts rudely at work? How could they treat us this way?! Some people even think the universe is personally against them. But the truth is, it’s not personal — it’s the other person’s issue that they’re dealing with. They are doing the best they can. You can learn not to interpret events as a personal affront, and instead see it as some non-personal external event (like a leaf falling, a bird flying by) that you can either respond to without a stressful mindset, or not need to respond to at all.